In the current economic climate, most organisations are rightly concerned about their ability to recruit and retain the skilled, agile and motivated people they need for future success. Employee feedback that they’re unclear how to build a career internally – or access opportunities across the business – heightens this unease. So, what does it take to create an environment where people see and seize opportunities to grow and develop their careers?
The pandemic has accelerated the predictions around agility we’ve made for decades, most recently in Careers of Tomorrow. New technology has emerged that enables an internal market approach to jobs and experiences via a Talent Marketplace.
While technology helps improve internal mobility and create a fairer, more open career environment, it is often said that software is only part of the solution. During this 90-minute roundtable our panellists shared the insights they’ve gained from managing the move to a Talent Marketplace approach, with a focus on the culture and policies needed to change behaviour. We were fortunate to learn from the experience of our panellists Lynette Braganza, Senior Director at CapGemini and Gianpaolo Barozzi, Senior Director HR at Cisco.
Participants were invited to share their status in relation to Talent Marketplace software. Only one attendee had implemented a marketplace and was already realising the benefits. While several were in a pilot phase, most were still in the process of actively gathering information about the approach.
Our expert panellists explained why talent mobility is important in their contexts, and the participants built on this to create a compelling vision for potential benefits:
Resourcing jobs and assignments
- Faster deployment of people, by quickly matching people and business requirements, leading to an increase in the internal fill rate
- Savings in recruitment costs
Development of strategically important skills
- Shifting focus from assessing to developing talent
- Identifying where talent/skills exist within the organisation
- Internal mobility is a great way to re-align talent and individual skills toward strategic priorities
- Helping individuals manage their careers by being able to see career and development pathways
- People are less likely to look outside with access to opportunities inside, leading to significantly higher retention of talent
- Breaking down the perception that movement across the organisation is difficult or impossible
- Nudging people towards matches with suitable roles to build the confidence of currently under-represented talent
- Democratising career development; delivering on the EVP…‘opportunities for all’
- Encouraging employees to be more agile, to get out of their comfort zones and to ‘test drive’ possible career directions
We explored common barriers to the successful introduction of a Talent Marketplace:
- The culture of the organisation, and in particular manager attitudes and behaviour. For example, the default reaction of managers to look externally for talent when there’s an opening, or the belief that managers own the people who work for them
- Employees not trusting that they can apply and move to other opportunities without repercussions
- The quality of the data; whether internal or from outside the organisation
- Perceptions of how well the marketplace functions in businesses where there are: a diverse range of traditional and new economy work activities; many highly-specialised skillsets; and long-established professional and functional silos
We turned our attention to what enables the successful introduction of a Talent Marketplace. Our experts and practitioners identified the need to:
- Design or select a technology platform that integrates with existing HR systems
- Decide on a taxonomy for describing opportunities and capturing information about individuals (some Talent Marketplace systems can help with this). For example, identifying key skills rather than every possible skill, highlighting the emerging ‘hot skills’ which will drive the future success of the business.
- Capture experiences, which build confidence and develop expertise, and are often more important than skills to appointing managers
- Create a dynamic marketplace by including part-time gigs and projects. Indeed, it might be advisable to have separate systems for short and long-term assignments
- Energise employees by launching branded campaigns that educate and empower, meaning more people engage with the portal
- Craft policies that set clear expectations: who can apply, how you become eligible, how long you might wait before being released for opportunities
- Support managers with back-filling so they feel more confident about letting people go
- Celebrate nurturing managers who help people to build their careers and who see the Talent Marketplace as a way to extend the skills of their team
Our VRT concluded with the panel and practitioners sharing advice in response to questions emerging from breakout groups. Their guidance, and the takeaways reported by participants, included:
- Recognise this is a strategic intervention requiring investment and effort over years; there should be quick wins, however it will take time to realise the full benefits
- Get your problem statement crystal clear at the outset; what is the problem you’re trying to solve and the outcomes you are looking to achieve; how do these link to your strategic priorities?
- Make sure the technology is enabling and not driving what you’re doing
- Secure an executive level sponsor and champion. While the technology itself may help you to overcome cultural barriers, you’ll also need a plan for change management
- Agree your metrics; how much mobility is right for the business, and what does good progress look like? Communicate your progress against metrics. Retention levels, internal mobility, fill rates, and employee sentiment are common measures
- Consider starting with a pilot. Test the efficacy of the system and demonstrate the benefits of the approach
- Decide which employee groups to focus on and what career-building opportunities the marketplace will facilitate
- Clearly communicate the ‘what’s in it for me’ to your employees and your managers, as well as at an organisational level
- Policies around the marketplace need to be not only understood, but followed
- Ensure all people policies are aligned, for example recognition and reward
- Build a network of mentors to help people moving around the organisation to be successful
The insights from our panel members were neatly reflected by their stories of data and impact. One of the most compelling ideas was around career velocity.
“People who take part in short-term gigs and side-hustles, far from being distracted from their main job, perform better and move faster in their career”.
Perhaps, we reflected, the agile workplace has finally come of age.